by Wo Lycaeno
A woman's life spirals out of control during a camping trip after the death of her parents
| Her Darkest Side
Setting up camp took quite awhile for Alyssa Waters and her boyfriend, Bryen Fido. Her best friends Bree and Fred were setting up their own tent on close by. Alyssa loved camping. It was a great way to feel free, and alive. She used to go quite often with her family, but since her parents had died, she had recently begun camping with her friends. It was much more fun, since they could all stay up late, drinking beer, and telling messed up, terrifying stories that only Fred knew how to tell. This time, they had driven all the way up to Algonquin Park in northern Ontario. Alyssa especially loved camping in Canada, where it was cooler at night; just the way she liked it.
Before sunset, both tents had been set up, and Bryen had thrown four steaks over the fire on a grill he brought. The tantalizing smell of juicy steaks smothered in steak spice filled the air, and Fred cracked open a six pack of beer.
“Oh, the smell of dinner cooking on a camping grill,” said Bree dreamily. “It’s an almost sexual smell isn’t it?”
Alyssa burst out laughing, spraying some of her beer into the bushes.
When the steaks were ready, Bryen threw them onto paper plates, and the four of them were eating ravenously. Dinner tasted like heaven to Alyssa. It was a perfect moment, and she was glad to share it with the most important people to her.
After dinner, Bryen bagged up all the garbage and dirty plates, and tied them up in a tree farther away from camp.
“Bears are attracted to garbage,” he explained. “We don’t want them coming towards the camp, and we don’t want them getting at the garbage either, or they might try to come back for more.”
Bryen and Fred started a bonfire down by the beach that was close to camp, and the four of them sat down around it. It was getting darker, and soon the fire was their only source of light. Alyssa was on her fourth beer, and she was staring to feel a little drowsy.
“Who wants to hear a scary story?” asked Fred when they got settled.
“I do,” agreed Alyssa and Bree.
Fred began telling them about a crazed killer that was disguised as a doctor. He told them more about the killer doctor, but Alyssa wasn’t listening anymore. Something was moving in the bushes closer to camp. Her eyes were fixated on it. When it moved, she saw the moonlight reflecting off its horrid, venomous yellow eyes. The eyes seemed to pierce through her. It stared at her for a moment, then sprang off into the forest.
“Hey, guys,” she said, interrupting Fred’s story. “Did you see that?”
“See what?” asked Bryen.
“Something moved camp.”
“Alyssa you’re pretty drunk. What is that, your sixth beer?”
“Whatever. It was nothing, maybe just a squirrel if anything.”
“No, it looked bigger.”
“Maybe we should go to sleep now,” Bryen suggested to Fred and Bree. “When Alyssa starts seeing things, it means she’s wasted.”
Bree laughed. “Okay, I’m getting pretty tired anyway.”
Alyssa was annoyed with Bryen. She wasn’t one to make things up, so why didn’t he believe her? Oh, well. Maybe he was drunk too. She was getting pretty tired. And whatever the thing was, it was gone.
Bryen helped Alyssa up to the tent, and they said good night to Bree and Fred. Bryen and Alyssa got into their sleeping bag.
“We should probably just go to sleep,” suggested Alyssa. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay, goodnight.”
Bryen kissed her on the forehead, and she slowly fell asleep.
Alyssa opens her eyes. She is lying in a white room. There is a dull light in the corner of the room. It is hard to see, but she knows there are other people in the room. When she tries to move, she realizes that she is tied down. What is going on?
She struggles around, trying to break free from the chair she is in. A man approaches her.
“Who are you?” she cries.
“It’s okay, Alyssa,” he says soothingly. “I’m here to help.”
He is wearing what seems to be a lab jacket. He has a kind smile that calms her. She stops struggling.
“It’s time for your meds,” he says.
Meds? Does he mean medicine? What medicine does she take? She isn’t sick.
The man pulls out a large syringe. Alyssa starts struggling to get free once again. He is going to poison her.
“No! Please no! What do you want from me? Noooo!”
“Alyssa, wake up!”
Alyssa opened her eyes once again. She threw her hands up to stop the man from injecting her. She smacked against him. He restrained her with brutal strength.
“Alyssa, stop! What’s wrong?”
It was Bryen. She was back in the tent. The man with the syringe was a dream. A nightmare.
“I’m sorry Bryen. I was having a nightmare.”
“Yeah, I could tell. You were thrashing around like someone was trying to kill you! What were you dreaming?”
She told him about the dream.
Bryen comforted her. “It’s okay now, sweetie.”
The dream still made her uneasy, but she was a bit calmer now. The dream seemed so real. Strange.
She had been having some strange dreams since her parents had been killed in a car accident while she was driving three years ago, but none seemed this real. In the usual dreams, she was driving alone in her car, and then her dad would appear beside her, and she’d crash into a transport truck.
She really did miss her parents, and that could’ve had something to do with the dream. She often camped with them, so maybe the setting that reminded her of her family was making her uneasy and frightened on a subconscious level. It was good for her to go camping with her friends, to make some new memories that would help her get over the old ones. It still pained her to think of the canoe rides she and her dad would take, and the hikes she’d go on with her mother while they were camping.
Alyssa noticed it was still dark out. “What time is it?”
“It’s two in the morning. You should get some more sleep.”
“What?” inquired Bryen.
“Shh!” she warned.
Alyssa saw a shape moving around the tent. And she soon knew that Bryen saw it too, for his eyes widened, and he slowed his breathing. Alyssa knew it was the thing she had seen earlier. It wobbled along, its shoulders swaying with each step it took. Alyssa could see little of the creature, only the movements it made, for the moonlight was not very strong. She could hear its gentle breathing, and the leaves that crackled under its feet. It seemed to be about the shape of a bear.
“What do we do?” mouthed Alyssa.
Alyssa slowly lowered herself back down onto the sleeping bag. She tried not to think of the creature too much, but it was hard not to. Minutes that felt like hours went by, and she knew the creature was still outside the tent. What was it doing? She had a strange suspicion as to what it was doing: Waiting.
Bryen tapped her on the shoulder. She sat up.
“It’s gone,” he whispered.
“Where’d it go?” she whispered back.
“Back into the forest?” he guessed. “We should go see if Bree and Fred are okay.”
“No way. I’m not going out there. It might not be far.”
“What if they get out of their tent for some reason, and it attacks them?”
Alyssa knew he was right. “Okay, but I’m coming too.”
Bryen cautiously unzipped the tent flap. Alyssa was uneasy, but when she peered outside, nothing was moving. Bryen crawled out of the tent first, looked around, then helped Alyssa get out. The two of them gazed around for a second, but saw nothing.
“Okay, if you see something, make loud noises and try to scare it away. I read that’s what you should do.”
Alyssa followed Bryen towards Bree and Fred’s tent.
Suddenly, Alyssa saw something moving towards them, at breakneck speed. Alyssa started screaming.
The figure slammed into them. It was Fred. He was bloodied.
“What happened?” implored Bryen.
“Bree...it killed...it was horrible...Bree...”
Alyssa helped him sit down, and wiped some of the blood off Fred’s face. He was really shaken up. Had the creature really killed Bree? Alyssa shuddered at the thought. She couldn’t take another death around her, not another horrible memory linked to camping. Maybe it was best she never went camping again.
Alyssa rubbed Fred’s arm. “Calm down Fred. Tell us what happened.”
He took a deep breath. “I woke up ‘cause I heard a noise, and I saw this thing outside. I tried to keep quiet, but Bree woke up. And...she screamed. And...uh...it tore through the tent...and killed her. It ripped her apart.”
He started crying.
“Uh...guys...we should get going...” said Bryen suddenly.
Bryen pointed towards the bushes. The creature was staring at them, its venomously yellow eyes seeming to burn holes in Alyssa’s soul.
Alyssa helped Fred up.
The creature stood up too.
“RUN!” she cried.
And they did.
Alyssa was breathing too heavily to keep running. She said she needed to stop, so Bryen and Fred stopped too. It was then that Bree’s death sunk in. Her eyes began to water, and soon she was violently sobbing. Bree had been her best friend since elementary school. Bree had been her biggest supporter when her parents died, aside from Bryen. As little girls, the two of them would pour their hearts out to each other, and they knew that it was safe. Alyssa knew she could trust Bree more than her own parents. They told each other their troubles, their crushes, why they were sad, why they were mad, and everything and anything else.
Bree’s death was the crushing blow that Alyssa was afraid of. Her body seemed to shut down. She couldn’t move. It was too much to take. Everyone around her was dying. She couldn’t face the world anymore.
“Alyssa, honey, we have to keep moving.”
“I can’t!” she cried. “I just can’t!”
“Alyssa, you have to! We can’t stop now, we’ll all get killed!”
“What does it matter? Huh? It’ll just kill us anyway!”
“Listen, Alyssa. Snap the hell outta this! Get over yourself! We have to keep moving! I know you’re still upset about your parents, and you should be! But you have to keep going! To fight for them! To fight for Bree! Don’t you wanna find help, and kill this fucker? It killed Bree, so let’s kill it! But we can’t kill it now, we have to keep going!”
Alyssa let his words sink in. He was right. Why should she lie here waiting to be killed, when she could go kill the creature that embodied death itself?
Alyssa got up, but something suddenly struck her as odd.
“Where’s Fred?” she asked.
“He’s—not here,” he said, puzzled. “What the hell? Where’d he go?”
Fear settled into Alyssa as she realized what had happened.
She was knocked into unconsciousness by a dead weight as she watched three claws protrude through Bryen’s stomach.
Back in the white room with the dull light, back in the chair, tied up again. The man with the syringe is still there. But the syringe is empty, and he’s backing away. He sets the syringe down on the table, and laughs. Someone else is in the room. It’s a woman, with red hair. She smiles.
Alyssa wonders what they are laughing about.
“Off in another of your dreams. Well, it’s time to come back to reality, sweetie. Sweet old reality.”
The woman has a different syringe, but this one is smaller. Alyssa is scared. What is happening?
Alyssa woke up. She thrashed around for a second, before realizing that she was awake again. She was still lying in the same spot as before. She sat up, and looked around. Bryen and Fred were gone. She felt warm fluid on her face, and she realized she was covered in blood. She screamed.
“Get—off...get—off,” she muttered as she wiped the blood from her face.
Then a depressing, sinking feeling overcame her. All her friends were dead. She was alone in the forest, with a horrible creature stalking her. What was she to do?
She suddenly remembered her last thoughts: Kill the fucker. Thoughts of fury, thoughts of revenge, thoughts that would help her keep going. She stood up with prose, with purpose. Now, she had nothing left but anger. Her only desire was revenge. She had to kill that creature. She would find a way. It was easy to find a way when you had nothing to lose. Nothing to lose...a feeling she never thought she’d feel.
She needed a plan. But how could you outsmart something unknown? Maybe if she knew what the creature was, she’d have a better idea as to how to kill it. But she didn’t have even the slightest idea of what it could be. She knew, for one thing, that it wasn’t a bear. Bears don’t stalk people like this one did, at least as far as she knew. Maybe it was some kind of super-intelligent genetically altered bear. Or maybe it was the Devil...
Whatever it was, it was gonna die.
“Screws plans...” she muttered.
She took a deep breath. “HEY YOU INBRED BEAST! COME GET ME ASSHOLE! COME TEAR ME UP LIKE YOU DID TO MY FRIENDS!”
And then she waited.
A few times, she heard rustling in the bushes, leaves crackling, twigs snapping, but nothing came. Maybe it was dead. Maybe it was gone. Maybe it was stalking new victims. Nope, she thought, there it is.
Two chilling yellow eyes studied her with violent intent. The eyes moved closer to her. Soon, she could make out the outline of its swaying shoulders. She was surprised to see it taking its time walking towards her. But then something weird happened. It began shape shifting, turning into something else. Its bulky features were becoming subtler; broad shoulders becoming smooth, rounded shoulders. Large, round head becoming a smaller, oval-shaped head. As it was still moving forward, she saw thick fur become smooth skin. It was becoming a human.
And not just any human; it was becoming Bree.
Bree walked towards Alyssa. “Surprising, isn’t it? How your best friend becomes your worst enemy? But then again, I’m not your worst enemy, am I?”
“Bree, how could you?!”
“How could I what? Delight in a little early morning feast? What is it to ya?”
“What are you?”
“You’ve never heard of a loup garou, a hombre lobo, a lupo manaro? A werewolf?”
“Yes I’ve heard of a werewolf...that’s what you are?”
“One night I was walking home, and I saw something hiding in the bushes. Back then, we used to have a lot of run-away dogs, remember? I thought it might be one of them, so I approached it. Ha. Foolish me. It bit me, and over time, I turned. Of course, I’ve learned to control it. Not that you would’ve noticed if I hadn’t learned to control it, you being so busy in your other realities.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Oh, you’ll see. Well, show that nurse a little bit of her own blood for me, will ya?”
Bree had been steadily approaching, but Alyssa hadn’t noticed. It was a horrifying surprise when Bree’s body elongated and metamorphosed into that of a massive, black wolf. The wolf slashed at her body, sculpting bloodied gashes in her stomach. It was enough to make her pass out. And she did...
When Alyssa woke up, she was once again back in the white room with the dull light. She was still tied down, but there was no one in the room this time. She fought through the ropes to get free, but it was no use. She was in some sort of straight jacket.
“HELP!” she cried. “HELP ME!”
She was able to strain her neck enough to see the large mirror on the wall. Or rather, in the wall. It was very obvious that it was a two-way mirror.
This time, she was sure this wasn’t a dream, but what was happening?
“HELP ME!” she cried once again.
Two nurses came through the door.
“Settle down Alyssa,” one of them said, the taller one with brown hair.
The second nurse was the redhead from her nightmares. “She’s just woken up from one of her special dreams.”
“What are you talking about? Where am I?” butted in Alyssa.
“You’re home, sweetie,” said the redhead. “This is Angela, and today is Angela’s first day working here. Try to help her feel comfortable.”
“I might try when YOU TELL ME WHERE THE FUCK I AM!”
“Alyssa, calm down, or we’ll have to do that for you!” snapped the redhead. “You’re still in the hospital.”
“What kind of hospital ties people down?”
“The kind where the patients are crazy,” said Angela.
“I’m not crazy, you people are!”
Alyssa ripped her arm out of the ropes. She flailed the arm around, trying to hurt the nurses. The nurse named Angela restrained her, while the redhead injected her with something. She instantly stopped moving. It was some kind of sedative.
“What are you people doing to me?” she said sleepily.
“How is this helping?”
“We’re keeping you from hurting yourself.”
“I’m not going to hurt myself.”
“Well then, we’re keeping you from hurting others.”
“What do you think I am, some kind of crazy murderer?”
“Actually, honey, you are a crazy murderer.”
“Don’t you remember? You killed your parents.”
These nurses were lying to her. Giving her false information. Maybe they weren’t even nurses. Something strange was going on here. Her parents died in a car accident, not a homicide.
“I didn’t kill my parents!”
“That’s what your mind is telling you, but I’m sorry honey, you did kill them.”
“Are you people werewolves like Bree? Did she bring me here? That secret-keeping bitch!”
“Oh no, she back into her delusional world,” the redhead moaned.
“What did you just say?”
“Alyssa, honey, you never went camping. Bree is not a real person.”
“What? Why are you lying to me like this? What are you up to?”
“Honey, you’re in a mental hospital. You’ve been here for three years, ever since you killed your parents.”
“Mental hospital? What? I was just camping! How did I get here?”
“Honey, you were never camping. You don’t know anyone named Bree. Bree is your alternate personality. Honey, you have very advanced dissociative paranoid schizophrenia. You killed your parents in paranoid rage, because you thought they were trying to kill you. You were arrested, and then brought here. You’ve been here ever since. The camping, and all the memories you’ve had since your parents died are fake. Just false memories your brain invented to make up for the lost time.”
Alyssa was stunned. She knew the nurse was lying, but it all sounded so believable. She seemed so sure of this.
“But what about my boyfriend, Bryen? And Bree’s boyfriend, Fred?”
“Honey, what’s your boyfriend’s full name?”
Alyssa was confused. “Bryen Fido. Why?”
“How does he spell his first name?
“I thought so.”
“What? What is it?”
“Honey, Bryen isn’t real. His name is an anagram for ‘boyfriend.’ Your mind made him up.”
“What do you mean, an anagram?”
“If you rearrange the letters in the word ‘boyfriend,’ you can spell Bryen Fido. Your mind invented the name.”
“What about Bree? Bree Stinfd?”
“Bree Stinfd is an anagram for ‘best friend.’ She isn’t real either.”
“But—but—there’s Fred Goodin...”
“Anagram for ‘good friend.’ I’m sorry honey, it’s always hard to wake up and realize this stuff. But it’ll all be okay.”
Alyssa began to cry. All this information was hard to take in, whether she believed it or not. She couldn’t imagine even thinking of killing her parents. The thought made her want to be dead. And to think that her friends were all just thoughts...it was too hard to take. She sobbed.
The nurse, Angela, began to look confused.
The redhead noticed. “What, Angela?”
“Where did those wounds come from?”
The redhead bent over Alyssa, looking at something.
“Alyssa, have you been hurting yourself?”
“No...” she said through tears.
“Well, do you remember any recent injuries that I might not have know of? Anything at all?”
“Well then, can you explain the gashes in your stomach?”
It suddenly dawned on Alyssa.
“Bree...the werewolf...it tore at my stomach.”
“Honey, that was all just an illusion.” She sighed. “They must be self-inflicted wounds. The mind trying to make illusions more real.”
Something bubbled inside Alyssa. She was suddenly convulsing. Something was trying to get out of her. The pain was unbearable...
“OWW!” she screamed.
“Oh my God!” cried the redhead. “She’s going into convulsions! Get the doctor!”
Alyssa felt her skin splitting, her bones elongating, and her heart racing. Her skin was growing thick, black fur. The pain was terrible...
...but she smiled.
Lycanthropic transformation was different than Bree had described.
Bree was standing in the corner of the room, holding the redhead’s limp corpse. Angela was dead on the floor.
The hunt was on.